October 2021
Consider joining us and perhaps inviting a friend to an Illuman Virtual Council! Be sure to visit our website to see our schedule. It's also where you can learn more about the virtual council program.
1. Connecting with Brothers in the Global Wisdom Council

Andy Gray, Illuman Representative to the Global Wisdom Council
In the summer of 2018, Terry Symens-Bucher and I arrived in Frankfurt, Germany on our way to EuroSoul, a gathering of men’s organizations from across Europe with common roots in Richard Rohr’s teachings and M.A.L.Es work. With our focus on Illuman’s work in the United States, we can sometimes forget that men around the globe have been independently forming similar communities in their local regions over the last two decades, all inspired by the same wisdom teachings and meaningful Men’s Rites of Passage experiences.

While I have traveled fairly extensively for both business and pleasure and have spent quite a bit of time surrounded by unfamiliar languages and cultures, this journey felt rather different. We were stepping into an intense few days of soul work, ritual, and Council in a foreign environment where I knew almost no one (and didn’t speak German). Thankfully, we were met at the train station by a kindly man named Wolfgang, whose gentle smile and calm presence put us at ease as he helped us navigate the transit required to get to the event location in Essen.

At first, I felt like an outsider at someone else’s reunion, as men arrived and greeted long-missed friends, laughing, embracing, and sharing animated conversations that I couldn’t follow. Those feelings quickly passed, however, with an abundance of warmth and inclusion as we together built a familiar container of Council circles, ritual, dyad walks in nature, and the like. “Listening from the heart” takes on a whole new meaning when you don’t understand the language being spoken and you must heed the wisdom of listening for what’s being said beneath the actual words! And yes, some of the best times we shared were around the dinner table, breaking bread together amidst both lighthearted and serious sharing.

Fresh off an even larger multi-country EuroSoul gathering in Bavaria the following summer, a group of brothers from the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and the United States decided to start gathering regularly in virtual Councils, both to continue nurturing and strengthening a sense of global interconnectedness, and to explore ways to strengthen the collaborative impact our respective men’s groups can each have locally, regionally, nationally, and even globally.

We began gathering in early 2020. Little did we know at the time how timely that was and how valuable a global support network would prove to be, as the world changed right before our eyes with the advent of a global pandemic. Everyone around the world was impacted, and we leaned on each other to grapple with the impact to our families, local communities, and nations, and to wrestle with what role our respective organizations and larger global brotherhood had to play amidst the unknown.

As you may have experienced in sitting in Council with others, I only know snippets of the mundane parts of these brothers’ lives: daily activities, careers, and the like. But there has been plenty of deep sharing around the juicy parts: loved ones’ illnesses, personal and community responses to the pandemic, the challenges of family dynamics, concern and mourning for our ecological crises, the simple joys of discovering mushrooms while hiking in the forest. Stories like these are universally human, not constrained by language and culture, and arbitrary lines on maps are not particularly relevant when it comes to deep soul connections.

There's something inexplicably invigorating about our global Councils. Perhaps it's just the simple knowledge that, even in these tumultuous times, there's a beautiful thread of shared humanity and brotherhood that literally extends all the way around our planet. Every time that we meet virtually, as we ground ourselves together, I take a moment to visualize an actual thread stretching from my home in Oregon across the oceans to wherever others may be at the time: to Wales, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Czechia, Italy, Australia, and back again. 

And this is true whether we’re connecting with someone on the other side of the world or across our own town. Virtual Council simply offers the opportunity to make distances shorter and to share deeply with those that we might not be able to otherwise. When we gather in Council, it’s the sharing and listening from the heart that matters: the offerings of our own stories to the greater Story.

Thank you for showing up and holding your own piece of that global container!

Connecting through COVID: Embracing Our Lives, Each Other, and the World
The time is near, and we are excited about the upcoming opportunity to gather together with Brothers for SOULARIZE 2021 – Connecting through COVID: Embracing our lives, each other, and the world. The virtual Soularize gathering for this year will be a day-and-a-half online program, Saturday, October 23 and Sunday, October 24. To account for multiple time zones, we will start at 10 a.m. Eastern Time/7 a.m. Pacific Time on Saturday with a Contemplative Sit and end by 2:30 p.m. Eastern/11:30 a.m. Pacific Time on Sunday.

It has been a rollercoaster ride to reach this moment and as initiated men we have been reminded of the Five Hard Truths of Initiation, especially “You are not in control.” Yet, we know that we are guided by a higher power and we are exactly where we are supposed to be, and we hope you will be with us. Below are some of the highlights for this year’s gathering.

  • We will be using the Illuman practices of nature, ritual, image, story, and Council to explore the topics of Grief and Connecting.

  • Our time together will be grounded in the Illuman Touchstones of Centering, Gathering, Connecting, Releasing, and Serving.

  • We will be joined by Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM in a conversation with Illuman Elders on Saturday evening.

  • We will encourage men to practice the Way of Council together as we Listen from the Heart, Speak from the Heart, Be Lean of Expression, and Be Spontaneous.

The agenda allows for expansive times to slow down and appreciate the space between words and the music between the notes of the songs of our lives.
We will enjoy each other’s company, and while not shoulder to shoulder, we will still be connected heart to heart within the imaginal field of space and time.
If you have not yet registered for Soularize, you can register for the virtual event for $100 by going to the online registration page. For those who have already registered for the in-person Soularize gathering, your registration includes the virtual Soularize offering, and you do not need to do anything else at this time. We also have scholarships available for anyone to participate in Soularize online. Please email [email protected] for more information on scholarship opportunities.

We invite you to gather with us around the metaphorical campfire for the online Soularize and share deeply from your heart: your story, your thoughts, your feelings, your needs, and your commitment to walking your path. We hope you will join us online for Soularize 2021.
3. Join These Upcoming Illuman Events

Next series to begin on October 25th
We’re happy to announce that registration is now open for our next offering of “A Father for Generation Alpha,” which starts on October 25, 2021. There is no cost to register, and all registrants will receive more info about the program in their US postal mailbox after they register, along with a gift from Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM. More information on the offering and the registration link can be found at the A Father for Generation Alpha website.

A few words of encouragement from a recent dad who participated:

If I could say something to the new dads entering the program, it would be to not overthink each part of the process. Focus on your initial thoughts and look at where you can apply the traits you learn about—to yourself and those around you—to hopefully better understand why some things are the way they are. By understanding the deeper workings of yourself, you can then work forward to improve and adjust yourself to be more the person you picture of yourself. This doesn’t mean everyone needs to make adjustments to themselves, but if improvement or change is something you desire, this is a great way to start down the path. —Daniel

December 3–5, 2021
(held virtually on Zoom)

Co-hosted by Illuman of Northern California and Illuman of DC Chapters
Elders at the Gate is a three-day virtual experience, built from the ground up on the collective wisdom and work of the men of Illuman. Focused heavily on the power of story and Council, this event in an invitation into deeper brotherhood for all men, initiated and uninitiated. (Any initiate who signed up for a cancelled/postponed 2020 or 2021 MROP is invited to attend for free.) All involved will hold space for and work deeply around the question, "How do I live my power?" The elders are waiting to receive your story. Join us.
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Without us God will not,
but without God, we cannot.
~ Fr. Richard Rohr ~